Thursday, September 29, 2011

Plaster downstairs in the carriage house

So I've been intimating for some time that the plaster on the walls downstairs in the carriage house has some water damage. Here's a little indication of how much damage I mean: this is on the northeast corner next to where I replaced the termite-eaten door. [from last year]It's easy getting the rotten plaster off - but you'd better be wearing a mask, because the dust it releases is nasty in many different ways. I've found that it makes me cough for a day, but then makes me truly ill for about three, by which I mean feeling feverish and having troubles with depression. Clearly there's things in it that Just Aren't Good For You.

Anyway, after knocking all that off about two weeks ago, last week I knocked off the rotten plaster in the southeast corner, the so-called "closet" (because it naturally should be a closet). Problem there is that on the east side of the south wall, that was all the plaster. I suspect this is because of the gutter downspout they routed across the face of the wall to the alley [original post from 2009]- I think that leaked and dissolved first the mortar on the outside, then (as night follows day) the plaster on the entire inside of the wall. Probably took it ten years. Note, by the way, the steel rail still hanging there; I'd bent the last bolt holding it on last year and gave up in disgust; this year, not tired by having my arms above my head for the previous five bolts, this one came out pretty easily.

This is probably most of the plaster I'll have to remove. There's a little at the bottom of the wall behind the washer and dryer, but that's it. The north wall was more protected, it appears.

So tonight I got started on replacing the plaster. Here's the amount of plaster added after two episodes of Star Trek Voyager (thanks, Paramount and Netflix!). You can't see it well here, but the base coat is about a quarter-inch thick in most places; there are places where the bricks project a little more where the base coat is only an eighth of an inch or so.

The amount I got done looks kind of pathetic, but I'm getting quicker as I go, and it was tricky maneuvering the plaster trowel in the corner, so I think the rest of the wall will go faster than this makes it look.

But worst case, Voyager has a lot of episodes.

Anyway, I'm pretty pleased with how this is coming out. The resulting base coat is pretty bumpy because I'm really not very skillful applying it yet. I'm going to try a top coat and see if I can't do a little better with that, but I'm not going to be all broken up if it's not perfect. The rest of the plaster down here is pretty sad, having been modified and patched a lot over the last century. This base coat's already about as good as the rest of it. So this is great practice!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

More houses in Hungary

A half-hour search on for houses requiring renovation with 5 rooms or more turned up about ten houses I consider "interesting", in parts of town with decent infrastructure, and all really quite affordable. The most expensive is about $80K.

Maybe it's going to be cool, having to go to Europe.

OK, house in Hungary

Still haven't found a really rockin house in Budapest, but this one is close to Kecskemét, so I'm getting closer. Built in 1907. Has a freaking name, a name that is written on it. So history-wise it wins. I give you the Juliána-lak: price, a mere 5.8 million forint, something like $30K.

Do want!

(Update: the town it's in, Nagykörõs, is where my wife's maternal grandfather was from - I knew I'd heard of it somehow, but had no idea how. Anyway, she's got some cousins there. She's not sure whether that's good or bad, but does clearly remember the place being a dump when she visited as a child - but then she's from Budapest, so nearly everything in the world is a dump.)

Sunday, September 18, 2011

House in Germany

I think I have a house problem. This house is currently available for a mere 14.2 million Hungarian forint (about $70K), in Jöhstadt, Germany. It's 12 rooms, needs work, 5000 square feet or thereabouts, and I freaking want it so bad.

But no, I gotta look for stuff in Budapest. All the good stuff is taken there. (Not entirely true; prices are way down this year. I'm hoping we can find something interesting - if nothing else, we may be able to buy my wife's old family home if we can persuade the current owner to do a deal.)

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Wiremold on-wall wire channel

Wiremold makes a nice, attractive line of surface-mount channels and boxes for adding wire to existing masonry structure, and so in preparation for a couple of different projects of this nature, I bought some.

Let me just state for the record that Wiremold's documentation is some of the worst I have ever seen in my life, and their Website was obviously built by moderately-trained monkeys in the 1990s. Their online catalog plays paper noises when you turn pages. No, seriously. And there's no entry at all on their site for the "On-Wall" line, even though they went to the trouble of registering the trademark. In fact, their entire site consists of an undifferentiated bucket of PDFs with some kind of AJAX-y search-ish functionality in a side bar, and the results it returns are essentially useless.

I finally found the only published instructions for how to use their channel system on page 11 of 17 of a sales brochure for home products, consisting of a single 2x3" box with four blurry pictures. It's like living in a Douglas Adams book.

So anyway, lousy documentation, pretty nifty series of products. I'm going to use them in a couple of places, like the lights I'm putting on the back staircase in the big house. (Yes, I actually started doing something in the big house this year. Amazing, ain't it?)